Renting a 2nd property to get a school place(12 Posts)
Parents in my DC's class have just announced they are moving into a rental property while they have some work done to the house they own and usually live in. This happily coincides with the Secondary School Application window and fortuitously puts them in catchment for a previously out-of-reach 'outstanding' school.
Clever things timing the renovations in this way! But a quick look at our County Schools Admissions website reveals: 'Examples of cases that will be fully investigated and applications withdrawn include: renting a property close to a popular school but retaining another property'.
Seems pretty clear but they're confident that a 12 months lease will give the Council all the comfort it needs - and another family pulled off a very similar move last year. Maybe this rule doesn't actually get enforced?
I guess it depends whether the LA or schools (where they are the admission authority) check council tax bills etc.
Or whether anyone grasses on them.
Obviously things change from one LA to another but I can confirm that in my LA they definitely do check. They will be paying rates on the other property and this will then come up as a big red flag that there are two addresses associated with the family. Also in my LA there are known rental properties near to popular oversubscribed schools which are red-flagged so if anybody applies from that address it comes up as a query
Whilst the parents might think they are safe with a 12 month rental, I would not be that sure, especially if it appears that the renovation work is unlikely to last more than 6 months.The LA may have to bit their tongue a bit and accept the situation to start with but it would be no surprise if they checked where the family were living sometime shortly after the March allocations came out. If they have moved back into the main property then they will definitely remove the place.
It’s not unusual to rent while having a big renovation and I know plenty of builds that go on for more than 12 months, so unless you have concrete proof I’d keep your suspicions to yourself personally!
Could it be genuine
Yes, of course. Some people have a whole house renovated in one go with all of the associated mess and noise and inconvenience. If they are fortunate enough to be able to pay to escape that, then that is something many people would choose to do.
However,that's irrelevant to school applications.
If a family in that situation are also applying to a school during this time, they must use the address of the house being renovated not the temporary rented one.
The LA specifically say that renting one property whilst retaining another is an example of a case that will trigger investigation. And yes, they do enforce this (else everyone with a spare £12 - £24k could simply buy themselves a school place every time admissions time rolled around).
It will almost certainly be flagged in the checks done on council taxes or via someone reporting them. That leads to more checks and a decision.
A case when it might be allowed would be one where the house being renovated is entirely uninhabitable eg if it burnt down and is literally being rebuilt. In most cases the council's checks won't reveal anything like that and they won't allow it.
Here's an example of a case that hit the papers when parents moved for house renovations, applied from the new address and were told it was the wrong one.
Schools are wising up to this. From the admissions arrangements of the school where I work:
"If a parent, with whom the child is resident for the majority of school nights, owns an alternative property within 20 miles of the school which has been the main family home within the last five years, a property closer to the school will not be accepted as the designated normal home address for the purpose of applying the admission rules, even if the former property is leased to a third party."
Polyjuice they're not my suspicions, the parents are quite candid about their motives. And unless their contractors are spectacularly incompetent, the work they intend to undertake certainly won't take 12 months. They're playing the system. And if I'm honest, I almost admire their willingness to move out of a more conveniently located, established family home into less comfortable accommodation to secure the school place. I wouldn't be prepared to go through the upheaval.
As in many areas, the system round here is terribly skewed with a small number of highly favoured schools flourishing while the remaining 'under-performers' stagnate because people are pulling every trick to avoid them. I can understand it, but I don't like it.
What I'm interested in is the LA's wording and its real life application. Thanks Tiggytape for all that info - we're Home Counties - maybe the rigour being applied in the capital will ripple out this way.
What I'm interested in is the LA's wording and its real life application.
It is true that the rigour applied to catching admissions cheats has varied, and still does vary, in part due to the number of admissions cheats a LA encounter. Areas where they've had surplus places, lots of good schools etc may be slower on the crackdown than other areas that have contended with years of this sort of thing.
But this isn't a sophisticated cheat. Red flags will be raised even by very quick and free checks that all councils tend to do i.e. council tax payment checks. Only the cases that get red flagged in the early stages (or reported by members of the public and school staff) tend to get further more time-consuming checks.
Given that your LA specifically ban using a rented address without disposing of the original address. And given that this is going to be easy to spot, it is expected that even if nobody reports them, they should be caught.
You might not know though for ages if at all. There isn't a great fuss made about cheats caught early on in the process (before offers day).
The council simply write to the parents and say:
"You've said your address is Y. You are mistaken, your address is X. Although we agree that you are currently living at Y, you have not disposed of address X and, in accordance with our admissions policy X is therefore classed as your admissions address. You need do nothing further - we have amended your application form with your correct address.
P.S if you disagree with this decision tough luck - take it to appeal and try to explain to them why you have a legitimate reason to do this"
Many councils don't even bother writing. They just use what they regard as the correct address without notifying the parents. In some cases the child still qualifies for a place at the preferred school so the parents believe, wrongly, that renting made the difference. In other cases the first parents know is when they don't get any of the schools near the rented address.
And, of course, a proportion of the pupils that leave a secondary school during Y7 have actually been thrown out because the admission authority discovered that the parents cheated. There isn't usually any song and dance made about it. The child just isn't there any more.
Having renovations is fine. In that case they still need to apply from the main address.
Hate this sort of thing
In my experience they get away with it. Benefit fraud, school place fraud. All of it.
A lot of people are caught MissWimpy but fellow parents are very unlikely to ever know about it.
Parents only ever hear the boasts of people who do get away with cheating even if they represent a very small % of total applications and a decreasing % of the fraudulent ones.
A parent is unlikely to turn up at the school gates in March or April and say "we're gutted we got in Local Infants like you lot when we went to all the expense of renting near to Super Infants but the council caught us."
Equally parents whose children are forced to leave a school when cheating is discovered are unlikely to tell everyone they've been kicked out for cheating. They unsurprisingly make it sound like they chose to leave and it was their idea to go.
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